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Welcome, one and all (reminds me of that new movie...) to the second Smeargle's Studio Update! I hope you're glad that I've found the motivation to do a second, but with the great art that has been produced since last issue, such conviction has been in abundance. Exciting new artists continue to flood into the studio, and a recent MAC has been no less than record-breaking. I can't wait to dive into this article like the Water Pokémon I'm not, so let's go.
Recent months have signalled an important change in how the MAC is run, and also in how the winner is decided — gone is the long and tedious (for myself, the participants and the voters) judging process, which attempted to objectively filter an entirely subjective enterprise. It is now decided purely by public opinion, although — if participation increases enough — some form of judging may return, in order to make the polls more streamlined and thus easier for voters to use. The second MAC of the new era was the first to make use of a purely public opinion format, and — despite some minor concerns — nevertheless chose a deserving winner!
In a battle entitled "Realistic Pokémon", elcheeso achieved a narrow victory above his peers with this Woobat. One of the three (including its evolution) Psychic/Flying Pokémon of the new generation, Woobat is based on the Honduran White Bat — a small, fluffy and incredibly cute little thing. While it didn't take much for elcheeso to return Woobat to its origin animal, the technical execution of this piece is excellent. With multiple layers and careful brushstrokes, elcheeso has created a swathe of fur that looks completely natural. However, the main 'selling point' is the nose, the entire form of which has been achieved with delicate shading. While some have claimed the background could be improved, it would only distract from the focus.
aragornbird is no stranger to success in the MAC — it was but two MACs ago that he won outright, with the piece depicting Reshiram and Zekrom in a game of chess. It seems that he enjoys drawing the legendary dragon, as aragornbird has claimed second place with this atmospheric piece. While not quite following the theme as well as other participants (Reshiram may be akin to a phoenix, but not a galactic, fire-controlling one), it is a feast for the eyes, as is every piece of art by aragornbird. The background is warm, and creatively draws the focus to just above Reshiram's nose, who has a distinct coloration of its own. A swamping by the orange hue is averted with its blue eyes. Another professional piece by one of Smogon's most experienced artists.
It isn't often in the MAC that a single piece of art gains so much popularity in the public vote, but in this vote the winner gained an incredible 75.41% of the vote (in practical terms: 46 votes, to the runner-up's 7 votes). It is quite natural to attribute such an astonishing victory to a lack of quality in the other entries, but this was far from the case — every submission had its own idiosyncrasies. The theme was that of weather, and boy did the winner storm to victory! Yeahhh?
The brief for this month's contest was to make good use of atmosphere and pathetic fallacy while maintaining focus, and Sentret's design utterly fails to fail on any of the criteria! Having always been a master of using hues and complex shading to achieve an overall mood, Sentret has introduced some key features which no doubt handed him the victory on a plate (perhaps even a golden one). It is the detail and creative use of perspective that makes this piece stand out, with individual features of the piece drawing focus to a singular — notably off-center — point. The Surskit and the Lotad look up to the Wingull flying in the moonlight, as a lone Zigzagoon dreams beneath a rain-soaked overhang — is it possible to get anything more atmospheric than this? While it is primarily a blue hue, the green of Lotad's leaf and the vines towards the bottom of the picture create a piece that is thoroughly engaging. Really I should have done an entire article on this alone...
After such praise for Sentret's breakaway piece, you might expect a harsher review for the second-place submission, which was a full 39 votes behind the victor. However, it is quite possible in any other month that elcheeso's piece could have taken the primary place on the podium. Returning to the success of his submission in the previous MAC, elcheeso's piece is certainly unconventional due to its shadowy foreground, with a Swoobat family hanging from a branch. The grass and the lightning background, including the small — but easily identifiable — Zapdos, is expertly executed. It just simply isn't as atmospheric as Sentret's piece, and the shading of the left lightningbolt leaves a little to be desired. However, overall it deserved many more votes than it received.
Smeargle's Studio never seems to be lacking the blossoming of new talent, but occasionally there is a particular new artist who is simply exceptional. Over the years I've spent in the Studio, there has been the rise of those who are now household names (if such a thing can exist on a website), such as Fatecrashers and Nastyjungle. In this feature I will highlight someone who has the potential, and it seems the dedication, to rise up to the hallowed golden Luvdisc and beyond.
Volmise opened her thread but a few weeks ago, and has already posted a large portfolio of excellent art. Bringing together a mix of Pokémon art and other pieces, her art evokes emotions of all kinds, from the humorous to the downright adorable. The line art is confident and clean, and the shading is moody and daring. Volmise is certainly one to watch, and hopefully she will stick around for a while yet!
You can check out Volmise's art thread here.
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